Daniel McAllyster doesn't find the
tree. No, the tree finds him. After arguing with Bess over the state
of the cabin and the meals she prepares for the little ones, he
stumbles out the door and heads into the woods for some clarity.
The tree stretches across the creek,
topmost branches reaching east. In the soft silences of the woods, it
came crashing down, taking with it smaller trees as its arm-like
limbs grasped for purchase. But once a tree has fallen, it has
fallen. No amount of helping hands will be able to right it.
Daniel studies the roots, now angry and
exposed among the great mass of fresh dirt and rock. For a moment, he
He returns home and grabs a chain;
throws it into the bed of his pickup. He opens the door. Bess stands
at the sink, Harry on her hip. “Found me an oak,” he says. “I'll
be a while.”
She doesn't turn around.
It takes him two hours to clean up the
tree and haul it home. Tanya, likely hearing the chain saw buzzing,
has stopped by and is sitting on the porch, drinking a cup of coffee.
She stands. “That's a pretty piece of wood.”
Daniel nods, studying the wood in
anticipation. “I'm thinking a dining room table. Caryn always
“Caryn is dead,” Tanya says. “And
Bess is her own person. She can't stay here and care for her siblings
“Roots are important.”
“You can't just shape her into what
you need her to be.”
Daniel looks up at the window, sees his
daughter rocking the little one to sleep. He's seen the college
brochures: Boston, New York, Maine.
“I just don't want her to fail.”
“You're afraid of losing her.”
“She's got nobody.”
“Neither do you. And neither do I.”
Tanya smiles and presses a hand to his forearm. “Let me help you
unhitch this tree,” she says, setting her mug on the porch.
Labels: flash fiction, Trifecta Writing Challenge